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What Is a Man?

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground – then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there He put the man whom He had formed.

- Genesis 2:5-8

Yes, I am shamelessly playing on the title of the documentary, What Is a Woman? Released first in June of last year, the show was re-released on Twitter in June of this year, where it got nearly 180 million views. If you can find a way to watch it, I recommend it. It’s very enlightening, and just as enlightening is the fact that finding a place to watch it is nearly impossible. It says something about our society that this is even a question, and worse, that it is a question we have to ask ourselves more than once.

You know what question we don’t ask, though? We don’t ask, “What is a man?” Father’s Day is a good enough reason for us to stop and think about man, masculinity, fatherhood, and all things male. Although I won’t pretend that a single blog is sufficient to any aspect of manhood, the least we can do is pause a moment and think. Specifically, I want us to think about man as God intended, meaning I am writing from an unapologetically Christian perspective. If all human beings fall short and we all need to be saved, then why would Christians look to the world for wisdom?

In our creation, God gave us two tasks: first, be fruitful and multiply, and second, subdue the earth and rule over it. These were the tasks given to the male and female made in the Image of God. To think that God created male and female unequally is inaccurate. All we have to do is read the text. Moreover, here – and only here in the origin of life created by God – will we find equality between male and female. Nowhere else. Indeed, so many in our society are eager to see the demise of Christianity without realizing that all the values of the western world originated in Christianity. Already, we see the diminishment of women as men seek to compete with women as women. We see the diminishment of women in men who are altered medically to be like women and proceed to behave in the most stereotypical and frivolous feminine or the most vulgar and degrading feminine.

In the passage above, which builds on the grand creation of Genesis 1, creation is seen as waiting for its caretaker. When God created the man, He formed the man from the dust before breathing life into him. In that first man, the union between material and spiritual began. Creatures have life, but animals, birds, and fish do not participate in the realm of the spiritual. They are not sentient beings. Likewise, the realm of spiritual life was and is populated by angels and demons, an entire sphere of beings who are active and acting but are not seen. In forming the man from dust and breathing His life into him, the Divine was joined to the world He brought into being. That is a man – the location of the union of spiritual and physical reality.

The man is created for a specific task, and that is to “work the ground” in the Garden Paradise that God gave him. In addition, the man ruled over the animals and birds, which is shown when he was allowed to name them. As God created and brought order out of the chaos, now the man is to do the same – bring order from chaos and maintain order in creation. That is a man – the one who works and brings order to life.

However, working the ground and ruling over living creatures are only one of the two tasks given to the male and female by God in Genesis 1. The man had no way of being fruitful, no means of multiplying, without the woman whom God fashioned out of the man himself and gave to him. Having been pulled apart by God to create the woman, the man not only needs her to multiply he now needs her to be whole. That is a man – the one who needs a woman to be whole.

All of this is revealed in the account of creation, and we cannot see what that was like. Perhaps C. S. Lewis makes the innocence of the first man and woman more accessible in his sci-fi novel Perelandra, the second in his Space Trilogy. We don’t know, though, because we cannot see the man and woman before sin and death warped human nature, just as we cannot see the Resurrected Jesus on His throne and in our midst even now.

The man did not end in the Garden. No… he was cast out of Paradise, and the reason tells us something about the problems we face today. (Truth never gets old.) When the tempter came to the Garden, he approached the woman who was created after God told the man not to eat of the fruit. When the serpent approached the woman, the man was standing there, and he had a choice. He could do what the woman wanted, which was to eat the forbidden fruit, or he could obey God. But the man needed the woman to be whole, and because he needed her, because she was part of him, he chose to listen to her rather than be obedient to God. That is a man, also – the one who compromises himself to keep a woman happy.

I think if we use this dynamic as our lens for viewing contemporary society, we can see much of what ails us more clearly. The first wave of feminism sought to be free of unjust restrictions, in matters like voting, owning property independently, having authority over one’s own body, and so forth (although, we should note that husbands’ and wives’ bodies are not their own in marriage, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, 7). Women’s achievements could not have happened without the support of men, particularly since men were the ones who voted on amendments and laws. Riding the wave of success in matters of personal freedom and autonomy, the second wave of feminism believed all things “woman” would be better than the way men ran things. Seeking to be treated equally is not the same thing as believing in female superiority, which is where we find ourselves now.

Except… we don’t. The ascendency of woman did not alter the nature of man. The punishment of the woman, in part, was that man would rule over her, and the punishment of the man was that he must work to bring forth sustenance and find protection for his wife and family. That is a man, as well – the one who struggles with his need for a woman and his desire to rule over her and force order around himself.

When we look around, what we see are men rearranging the meaning of womanhood to suit themselves. Men are bringing a distorted and perverted form of woman into being, but men are still proving themselves to be the ordering force in the world. Unquestionably, women are leaders in our society, but consider the fruit of feminine leadership. This is a society driven by facilitating personal happiness or at least contentment. To secure self-esteem we've encouraged the rise of emotion as truth instead of truth as truth. For centuries societies have sought to curb the excesses of emotion, but we are racing headlong into a morass of emotion-driven new realities, as if reality were actually malleable.

The women lost control when equality and sameness were confused. We can be equal without being the same. I have a brother and a sister, and I don’t see how anyone could argue that we are not equal. Even so, only in some far-fetched delusion would anyone think we are the same.

For as long as I have been in ministry, I’ve been told that there are some things only a woman can say to other women. Perhaps that is true. I don’t know. I certainly have said my piece on many facets of this discussion over the years. But what I can say is that at some point, men have to say no. I’m not talking about being insensitive jerks, but I am saying that making sure everyone is happy is a feminine idea, not a masculine one. There is no order or efficiency in trying to keep everybody happy. There is no preparedness in our children for facing the future.

Women pointed to all the flaws of men, and I expect women are right about those. But superimposing the flaws of women over the flaws of men doesn’t make anything better, nor does it alter human nature in the least. I am tired of women being this way – so arrogant, so proud, and so naïve. They are ruining all that is good about being a woman by foisting the feminine mind on men. Look at our universities. Did you know over sixty percent are run by women? Instead of telling students they need to learn to get along with people who are different, our institutions of higher learning coddle young adults and separate them from anything that causes them stress or anxiety. And all around the world are men who watch our vicious, sanctimonious, screaming snowflakes and wait for them to be in charge. Who does Marxism suit? Are women so tunnel-visioned we don’t recognize Marxism? Or do we not know that Marxism never ends well?

In Ephesians 5, Paul wrote that husbands are to “love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.” Out of love Christ lay down His life for a rebellious people who did not yet know Him for their salvation. That is the Man – the One Whom all men are called to emulate. As Adam protected himself, listened to his wife, and disobeyed, Christian men are called to sacrifice themselves as Christ did. Our world desperately needs men who love enough to stand firm and say, “No, you may not do what is wrong and destructive and demeaning,” no matter the cost to themselves. That is a man – a man after God’s own heart, and a man who will need a strong Christian woman to prop him up. Because that is how God made us to be…

In Christ –

Rev. Elizabeth Moreau

© 2023

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